Why Your House Must Have Them
When you go to sleep, your sense of smell also goes to sleep. Smoke alarms detect smoke well before any sleeping occupant will and provide critical seconds to implement actions to save life and property.
Reports indicate that the risk of death in a house fire is reduced by more than half if a properly maintained smoke alarm is installed.
NSW residents must have at least one working smoke alarm installed on each level of their home. This includes owner occupied, rental properties, relocatable homes, caravans and campervans or any other residential building where people sleep.Generally you should have more than one and they should be interconnected so that if one goes off, so do the rest, maximising the chances of alerting everyone in the house. The alarms must comply with the requirements of the Australian Standard AS 3786.
What Type of Smoke Alarm Should You Have?
There are two main types of smoke alarms, Photoelectric and Ionisation. If you already have one and you’re unsure which type you have, look on the base. A radiation symbol means it’s an ionisation model.
For best protection, it is recommended both (ionization and photoelectric) technologies be used in homes.
Fire and rescue authorities throughout Australia fully recommend the use of photoelectric alarms smoke alarms. Photoelectric smoke alarms ‘see’ the smoke. They respond to a wide range of fires, but they are particularly responsive to smouldering fires and the dense smoke given off by foam filled furnishings or overheated PVC wiring.
- Good for smouldering fire and dense smoke
- Not as prone to cooking nuisance alarms as ionisation alarms
- Contain no radioactive material
- Nuisance alarms can occasionally occur from dust and insects, so they must be kept clean
Ionisation smoke alarms ‘feel’ the smoke. They detect invisible particles of combustion, eg from cooking toast. They activate more quickly for fast, flaming fires with little visible smoke.
- Very good with fast flaming fires with little visible smoke
- Less prone to false alarms caused by dust and steam
- Can be susceptible to nuisance alarms if placed too close to cooking
- May be slow to respond to slow smouldering fires
- Contain a very small amount of radioactive material
Since smoke alarms respond to airborne particles other than smoke, it is better not to install them in kitchens, bathrooms, laundries and garages or in areas with strong drafts. They must be installed on or near the ceiling and not in “dead air” spaces.
You can install battery powered smoke alarms yourself, however to ensure your smoke alarms are installed correctly and are compliant – we recommend that we do it for you. Hard wired smoke alarms must be installed by a qualified electrician.
The type of smoke alarm to be installed must be compliant with the minimum regulations for the type of building – private dwellings or shared accommodation.
To keep your smoke alarm in good working order:
- Test it once a month by pressing the test button until the alarm sounds,
- Clean it with your vacuum cleaner every six months to remove dust,
- Change the battery once a year (unless it’s a ten-year lithium battery), and
- Replace the whole unit every ten years.
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